With almost 3 billion people across the world on social media (64 M in the UK alone), it’s the obvious place for schools to connect with new audiences. Engaging by nature, social platforms offer the perfect vehicle to authentically convey your school story and in doing so, attract and engage new parents.
Below you’ll find social media tips and best practices designed to increase your parent following and admission numbers…
Identify Where Your Parents Are
The key obviously to connecting with new parents on social media is to know the channels they’re on. Although you’ll get a diverse age group for each social platform, generally speaking, you’ll have a particular age group and gender that dominates a particular channel.
So, the first step to finding your prospective parents on social is to identify who they are. What is the ideal age group of the parents that you’re hoping to connect with? Once you’ve determined that, you’ll know which platform you’re more likely to find them. Are those the channels you’re currently on?
(It’s interesting to note that Facebook currently dominates in the UK with 71% of the market share. With their recent data scandal however, it will remain to be seen how/if that changes …)
Share Content That Gets Seen!
Now that you know the platforms your prospective parents are on, you’ll want to post content that gets your school noticed. With social moving at such a fast past, the most effective way of getting seen (and shared) is to include visual content in your posts.
Top of the list of content that grabs attention has got to be video. Whether a professionally made video like St Lawrence College’s stunning new launch, a photo compilation created by the school marketing team for your next Open Day, student-created parent and alumni testimonials (see EyeFilms if you’re looking for training) or a LIVE streaming video of a school event, there is no denying that video is the #1 way to capture a new audience. And each type of video has its place in your school’s marketing mix and on social media. All which can generate a massive amount of exposure and engagement from your current parents and the local community!
[Video courtesy of Affixxius Films]
While I’m a big advocate of professional school photos, with the ease of taking photos from your phone, there is no reason why you can’t include more images in your social posting. The photos that are most going to engage new parents? Images that tell the story of your school. And not just the obvious either. Share some ‘behind the scenes’ photos of staff and teachers that will pique their curiosity and drive them to your website. Remember the goal of social media shouldn’t just be to attract new parents but to engage them as well. Take them to your website to learn more about you!
Animated images don’t have to be ‘gimmicky’ and reflect poorly on your school brand. Gifs are great for social media as (in most platforms) they’ll play and loop automatically without the viewer having to take that extra step to click to view. There are many tools/apps out there where you can easily create a gif from either images or a video clip. One of the best tools out there is Filmora that allows you to easily create videos or gifs. It’s easy to use and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. But if you already have Photoshop you can also easily create gifs in there. They won’t be as slick as Filmora but if you’re already familiar with Photoshop, then it might be the better option for you.
Infographics are the perfect way to convey numbers and stats in a visual way. But they don’t just have to be ‘usual’ stats about your school. You can also create content that is useful to the prospective parent who may not even be thinking of a new school. The infographic should again be a bit of tease to encourage the parent to click through to your website and learn more about your school.
Why not create an infographic on how to study (like this sample downloaded from Canva – a free online tool) and encourage parents to visit your site to download your complete Study Guide? Or perhaps create one of the steps to applying to an Independent School? Both would appeal to prospective parents and be shared your current parents and other influencers as well!
Get Your Influencers on Board
Speaking of influencers, it’s no secret that people listen to other people. Whether we know them or not, we tune in to what others have to say on the digital landscape. With that in mind, look to expand your reach of influencers and brand advocates!
Reach out to your local community and your most socially active parents on social. The more they share your school stories and sing your praises, the wider your reach will be and the more Followers you’ll acquire.
Include local media handles and #hashtags when you’ve got a great story to tell or an event taking place. Did your school receive rave reviews from your last inspection? Post that and include the local press handles. When they Like or share your message it will expose your school to a whole new market of potential new parents!
Add groups and associations to your updates as well. Farlington School cleverly included the equestrian groups and publications when promoting their Open Day event. Again, groups will Like and share your messages and increase your social reach to new audiences!
Get your current parents on board as well. Turn to your social analytics to see which are engaging the most with your social posts. Identify those that have the most Followers and start to engage with them, encouraging them to share your social posts. They may also be the perfect parent to do a video testimonial! Again, their influence will spread the word about your school.
Broaden Your Story and Grow Your Audience
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, telling the same school story over and over. One of the quickest ways to generate new content ideas (and attract new audiences) and broaden your school’s story is by collaborating with the different departments. Ask each department to submit one or two pictures/video a week, highlighting their class activities. They can even get the students involved but making it a class project!
What appeals to one parent, won’t necessarily appeal to another, so the more varied topics you cover, the more you can grow and engage new parents. Broaden your school’s story and broaden your audience!
Examine Your Analytics
I’m a big advocate of data-driven marketing (especially when we’re all under pressure to perform), so I would highly recommend taking a few minutes each week to identify the content that resonates the most with your Followers.
Google Analytics will not only provide insight into the content you’re sharing on social that is driving new visitors to your school website, but if you have website goals in place (again, which I highly recommend), you’ll also be able to identify the content that’s actually converting (think Open day registrations and Admission applications).
Although not as powerful, your social analytics can also offer insight into your demographics — what content is the most popular and for some channels, what times of the day you get the most engagement — all which will lead to increased Followers and engagement!
Social Media Best Practices
And finally, before we wrap up, a few social media best practices you shouldn’t forget …
Ensure your social channel is reflective of your school brand and website. Remember many of your social visitors will be on their mobile. If they click through to your website, is it responsive? In other words, mobile-friendly? Often after a website’s been built schools will neglect ever looking at the mobile view again, even after making updates. You can have a fantastic social profile but you don’t want your website to turn away new parents — and vice versa! Brand your social platforms to make it easy for prospective parents to recognise you over time and in turn engage and follow your channels.
Don’t forget to use hashtags to reach new audiences and take advantage of trending topics. Each social channel will have recommendations for the optimum number of hashtags but run your own trial and error as well. Consider creating your own hashtags as well to encourage parents to share school content, i.e. #YourSchoolStory. This can be especially helpful if you’re a small team and don’t have a lot of time to generate content.
And finally, don’t forget to include links back to your website in your social posts. You needn’t do it on every post, but don’t overlook this golden opportunity to take your prospective parents beyond your social media platform and move them through your Admissions funnel. After all, that is the whole point. Isn’t it..??
If you need help improving your school’s social media profile, please get in touch.Contact Me